Archive for 2013
The recent planning applications for Cork Street, which were covered extensively in earlier blog entries, put into sharp relief the pressure that specialist traders and shops are coming under given the unrelenting rise in property values and rentals throughout the West End.
One of the many great things about the West End is the specialist retailers and service providers who, for historic reasons, congregated in particular parts of the West End. The bespoke tailoring business is protected within the Savile Row Special Policy Area and a consultation is now in place to create a similar protection for arts and antiques uses in Mayfair and indeed in neighbouring St James’s.
Your thoughts and views on these proposals will help to shape the framework to protect them for future generations.
You have until 14 February 2014 in which to make your thoughts known and a link to the consultation document is attached:
Mayfair _ StJamess FINAL for publication.pdf -
West End residents and those that are living and working in Westminster are entitled to seek advice on matters of concern or problems that they are experiencing.
This service is provided through the Westminster Adult Service Partnership (WASP) whose website is www.westminsteradvice.org.uk This advice is provided free of charge and is independent, confidential and impartial and available to all residents of Westminster regardless of their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion.
A guide to the services provided is set out below:
WASP Referral Guidance Notes.pdf
Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police have launched a website that lets you plan your journey home, set text reminders, discover your ‘Christmas party persona’ and the chance to win some prizes. This website comes at a time when festive parties and outings with friends, family and colleagues will be extremely common for everyone.
Throughout the festive period there will also be three safe departure zones across the West End. The departure zones are there to provide advice and assistance if you need help getting home. For more information, tools and advice, visit www.gethomesafelondon.com and or follow @gethomesafeLDN on twitter.
A Panning Application is to be submitted to Westminster City Council before Christmas for the redevelopment illustrated in the exhibition displayed below:
This scheme has many important benefits for the contribution to the regeneration of Mayfair and aims to do the following:
- Reconfigure the arrangement of office and residential accommodation across the site
- Refine the design of the permitted buildings on Grafton St, Bruton St and Bruton Lane
- Improve the amenity space for both the office and residential accommodation
- Improve the Public Realm
13051-Grafton-131126-CF01 - Public Exhibition Boards LO.PDF -
New West End Company announced last week that Jessie J will switch on the Oxford Street Christmas Lights on Tuesday 12 November. The event, hosted by Selfridges, will also feature Conor Maynard and X-Factor winner James Arthur. The event will start from 5pm and will be hosted by Capital FM presenters Lisa Snowdon and Dave Berry.
Oxford Street will be closed to traffic on Tuesday 12 November from Oxford Circus to Portman Street from 4pm - 8pm in order to guarantee the safety of the public. A number of roads in the immediate area will also be closed, please CLICK HERE to find out more.
Buses will be diverted between 3.45pm - 8pm on Tuesday 12 November. Please see the document below to view the bus diversions.
Please plan your journeys to and from Oxford Street on Tuesday 12 November around these closures and diversions. The London Underground will be operating a normal service throughout the traffic free event.
Christmas lights on Regent Street has been a London tradition since 1948, when the Regent Street Association first decorated the street with Christmas trees, the lacing of the street with lights marks the official countdown to Christmas day. On Saturday 9 November will see the street light up for Christmas, after a traffic-free day of entertainment and shopping.
This year, the lights will be switched on by actor Ty Burrell and Hollywood film director Rob Minkoff. Live performances from Eliza Doolittle, Leona Lewis and other artists will also be taking place throughout the evening. A fashion show along the street at 3pm, featuring many of the famous Regent Street fashion brands, will also be held.
This year's Christmas lights will be themed around the brand new DreamWorks animation film Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
Crossrail is holding a Safer Cycling Awareness Event on the corner of Grosvenor Square and North Audley Street on Wednesday 13 November 2013 from 7:30 am to 10am. There will be an opportunity to have a free bike check and bike security registration.
Please see the Crossrail Safer Cycling Awareness Event poster below to share with colleagues, family and friends to raise awareness of how to remain safe while cycling on London’s roads.
This event is being supported by Constain Skanska Joint Venture and the Metropolitan Police.
A special event to launch the Fitzrovia Community Garden project is being held on Thursday 31st October.
The Halloween Garden Party will be running from 1 - 4pm and will provide a great chance to socialise, get creative and get a final look at the courtyard garden before the designing, painting and planting starts.
Please see the flyer below for further information:
Halloween Garden Flyer -
West End residents and businesses will be only to well aware of the problems that there have been in relation to the electricity supply affecting the Ward over the lat few years.
We have seen regular and prolonged blackouts effecting theatres, the entertainment areas of Soho and residential areas to the north and south of Oxford Street.
I have been in dialogue with UKPN in order to ensure that the complex system that supplies the entire power requirement of the West End is robust and reliable and that the issues of both capacity and
of future proofing are being addressed.
There are major works pending which should upgrade both the supply and its reliability.
As part of this I took the opportunity to go into the major substation which is beneath Leicester Square and see for myself what happens. This substation connects directly of that under Brown Hart Gardens and also interconnects with other parts of the city to provide the main high voltage intakes powering the West End. UKPN need further major substations of this kind to meet projected demand and Westminster are looking at the opportunity of providing them with under utilised space from within their own portfolio to meet such demand.
On 22 October at 10:00am, the Mayor will be chairing the quarterly MOPAC Performance Challenge meeting. Holding the Met police to account for delivery against key performance targets is one of the most important roles of the Mayor in his capacity as the head of Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
The meeting will be held in Committee Room 4 at City Hall and will be webcast here.
The Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, will be discussing performance against MOPAC’s 20:20:20 Challenge to reduce crime by 20% in the 7 key neighbourhood crime categories, boost public confidence in the police by 20%, and cut costs by 20%. A transcript of the last quarterly Performance Challenge meeting can be found here.
There will be no papers for this meeting. Any presentations used during the meeting and will be made available on the website.
Westminster City Council have employed the services of expert Public Realm Consultants, Publica, to review the state of the Public realm within Soho and suggest ideas and priorities as to how it can be improved.
Attached are a number of plans showing existing, proposed and possible schemes upon which public consultation is now running. Public realm in Soho has suffered relative to other areas and now that the major schemes in and around Great Windmill Street and Denman Street, the Trenchard House Scheme and Berwick Street as well as Walkers Court are happening it gives an opportunity to trigger a major review of the look and feel of the pavements and roadways.
The recent upgrade of pavements from tarmac to paving stones on Dean Street show what an effect this can have and the resurfacing of the road way and works undertaken in Peter Street give us an idea of what can be achieved.
1 Soho_PRS_PUBLICAworkinprogress_merged -
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail western ticket hall at Bond Street contractor, Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV), will be undertaking a large volume concrete pour on the evening of Thursday 10 October 2013. Please see below for more information:
On Sunday 6th October 2013 Bluebird Care Westminster will be calling on residents aged 65 and over to join them for a variety of free activities being held as part of Silver Sunday, an annual day to celebrate the valued role of older people in the community.
Bluebird Care Westminster in partnership with other local organisations, charities and individuals across the UK will be organising the events and activities to help raise awareness of loneliness among older people.
Please see the poster below for further details:
Silver Sunday 2013 - Pimlico -Invitation -
A Panning Application from Great Portland Estates is soon to be submitted to Westminster City Council for the redevelopment illustrated in the exhibition displayed below:
This scheme has many important benefits for the contribution to the regeneration of Soho. A few of the key points are set out below:
• A high quality building with a distinguished architectural design
• A sustainable development
• Design technology that seeks to minimise construction period and disturbance
• New residential accommodation in the West End
Westminster City Council will consult residents, businesses and the local community during the application determination period. Westminster’s officers will collate all feedback from interested parties to form part of their report to the planning committee. Any feedback provided here, or by email, will form part of that report so please take this opportunity to view the attached and make your comments so that the local voice is heard.
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail Western Ticket Hall at Bond Street, contractor, Costain Skanska Joint Venture, will be undertaking a large volume concrete pour on the evening of Thursday 26 September 2013.
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail western ticket hall at Bond Street, our contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture will be undertaking a large volume concrete pour on Thursday 5 September 2013
Bond Street station - latest works information
The new eastern ticket hall for the Crossrail Bond Street Station is about to begin a new phase of construction work. Please see the information sheet below for further details of the work:
After some promising noises from various quarters, the potential for higher levels of house building by local authorities and ALMOs was overlooked in the spending review but undoubtedly warrants a more detailed examination ahead of next year’s Budget. Having given councils greater freedom to manage their housing budgets last year, the next logical step is to give them the freedom to decide on levels of investment and borrowing to fund it.
Councils currently plan to construct about 4,000 homes per year. This could increase by an additional 15,000 annually if councils were given more freedom to borrow to invest. Councils have a well-earned reputation for sound management of their finances and ALMOs are known for providing high quality housing management, managing large scale capital programmes and in many cases have already built new homes in communities all over the country.
The obstacle is the cap on council housing borrowing imposed by Government when self-financing began last April. Whilst those of us involved in local government understand all too well and support the Chancellor’s commitment to return the country to a stable fiscal footing, it is important to understand that this borrowing would be paid for by the rental income from the new homes and would not be a call on general taxation.
makes the case for a permanent change in borrowing rules even stronger than before. There is no reason why councils should not simply manage their own housing businesses effectively.
We are, indeed, the only country within the EU that does not recognise that investment in publicly owned housing is a commercial activity. All other member states do not include borrowing for housing investment in their public sector borrowing figures. I support the thrust of the report, which urges the Government to also recognise this important distinction and adopt international borrowing rules which would take council housing investment out of the main measure of government debt and outlines how this could be done.
A lot of hard work has been put into creating a new charity, Open Westminster. Its aim is to improve access to the natural environment and arts for Westminster’s residents. We have so many terrific opportunities in Westminster and this charity will provide a wide range of different events over the next two years or so.
The first offers under Open Westminster will launch on Thursday, 4th July through the City Council’s platform City Save https://citysave.westminster.gov.uk/.
All offers are free and are only for Westminster’s residents and, as there are a limited number of tickets for each event. Our first dated offer is on Saturday July 20th when Sir Peter Hendy, Commissioner of TfL, will drive his personal 1962 AEC RouteMaster bus for the journey from Westminster to Barnes to visit the London Wetlands Centre. There are only 62 places on the bus so first come first served. The tickets for the Summer Exhibition may be used immediately, and the two Tea Dances are in October and November.
An e-mail has gone out to thousands of Westminster City Save subscribers to announce, among other Value for Money offers, the Open Westminster Events.
If you know of anyone who will be interested please invite them to check out the Westminster City Save website as more events will be announced over the coming months.
The research results are wholly unsurprising and bear out precisely what I have been experiencing in Westminster for some time now. Personally, I do believe that the creation of the welfare state is something we should all be proud of though I do admit to being slightly older than the Generation Y cohort! I can also see, however, that mistakes in the application of benefits and the shift from a principle of ‘a hand up’ to ‘a hand out’ has undermined the achievements of the past. This is illustrated most clearly by the housing benefit system that is currently being reformed by the Government.
The Ipsos MORI survey was actually part of an excellent, much wider generational analysis that shows young people are also less likely than other generations to support higher taxes in order to increase benefit payments.
Again, this is no great surprise to anyone with any experience of housing in London and other high cost areas. While the desire to buy a home is the one consistently high and universal aspiration across the generations from pre-war and Baby Boomers to Generations X and Y, for twenty- and thirty-somethings today the dream is rapidly evaporating. To put it bluntly, they are the victims of decades of complacency and the unsustainable expansion of the welfare state.
For example, take a Westminster couple in their late twenties earning a joint salary of forty or fifty thousand pounds per year. They might be among the 45% of households in the capital who are worried about meeting their monthly housing costs To qualify for a typical mortgage on a lower quartile property in Westminster they would need savings of £200,000 to £300,000. The private rented sector is not much more affordable with average rents of around £550 per week exceeding the common benchmark of 40% of post-tax income.
Realistically our couple is not going to qualify for social housing either which means that they probably need to look elsewhere for somewhere to live. That is a massive loss to our community and by moving away from their jobs, their friends and potentially taking their children out of local schools, their commute is lengthened and their costs are increased.
In this situation, hardworking young people on average incomes have every right to feel more than a little irked when they realise that their taxes are subsidising the private rents of families living in central London homes the like of which they would need a decent lottery win to be able to afford. Indeed, not only were their taxes subsidising rents of up to £2,000 per week for others to live in the most desirable areas but they are also keeping prices in the area artificially high to such an extent that they have no chance of accessing the market.
This is the true picture of the welfare state in 2013 for Generation Y and these are the people I keep in mind when I am being attacked by political opponents for my support of the government’s welfare reforms. That is because I do not believe for one second that this generation of young people is any more heartless or lacking in sympathy for those genuinely in need of help from the state than any of their forebears. They have become the silent victims of an over-bloated and unfair welfare system full of perverse incentives.
The Housing Benefit bill in England is now pushing £23 billion, including £270 million in Westminster alone. Living in central London is not for everyone but I would wager that a large number of those for whom housing costs are a growing concern look at these numbers and wonder, not only why they should be proud of this system, but also question how on earth their parents’ generation got it so wrong. I am confident that this Government’s efforts might give Generation Y at least some assurance that we were not all bad.
This Sunday will see the return of the Soho Village Fete. Events and festivities will be taking place from 12 noon and finishing at 6pm. Please come and support your local community which will be showcasing live music and entertainment, drinks, food, stalls - bric-a-brac, books and a Museum of Soho.
This week organisers have confirmed that there will be eight concerts taking place on the Parade Ground in Hyde Park this summer.
Saturday 22 June –
Thursday 4 July
Thursday 4 July 2013
BST Hyde Park
Friday 5 July 2013
Show 2.30pm - 10.30pm**
BST Hyde Park
The Rolling Stones
Saturday 6 July 2013
Show 12.30pm - 10.30pm**
BST Hyde Park
JLS & Beach Boys
Sunday 7 July 2013
Show 1pm - 9.45pm**
BST Hyde Park
Sir Elton John
Friday 12 July 2013
Show 2.30pm - 10.30pm**
BST Hyde Park
The Rolling Stones
Saturday 13 July 2013
Show 12.30pm - 10.30pm**
BST Hyde Park Lionel Richie & Jennifer Lopez
Sunday 14 July 2013
Show 1pm - 10.15pm**
Monday 15 July -
Monday 24 July
Tuesday 27 August –
Friday 6 September
BBC Proms in the Park
Saturday 7 September 2013
Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park
Sunday 8 September 2013
Monday 9 September –
Friday 13 September